The high schoolers have the upper hand on this one. Whether it’s because their parents are making them, the test is only offered a certain number of Saturdays per year, or that the rigor of high school has them inured to testing, they take their practice tests and the real tests promptly. Perhaps not with alacrity, but they take them when they’re supposed to.

The GMAT and GRE allow you the option of delaying your exam, but for a $50 fee: at least seven days in advance for the GMAT, and at least four days in advance for the GRE. Although most students I work with keep their exam date, pushing it back has an allure.

If you’re thinking of pushing back your test date, here’s my take. If you are so upset over something that you can’t focus, then push it back. If you don’t have a deadline to apply and you haven’t studied, then push it back. If your opportunity cost of taking the exam on that date, versus other dates, is greater than $50, push it back. If you’re not feeling for your exam, but you’ve studied and are scoring within your target range, or you have a deadline to apply, do not push it back.

I don’t know about you, but I never feel ready to take an exam. There’s always something I could have studied more, and that’s on my mind going into an exam. Usually these thoughts occur the day of the exam, when it is too late to push it back without losing the entire test fee. Furthermore, the stress of the exam heightens my perception of importance of unrelated tasks on my to-do list, which could lead to the though of, “I’m not ready; I have too much other stuff to do!”

In the case of the GMAT, this actually happened to me in my exam seat, when I started thinking about two items on my to-do list: follow up with Grossmont college to see if my parking ticket appeal went through (due tomorrow), and call my former car insurance company to give them my debit card number (due in two weeks). Each of these tasks would take five minutes and together would require payment of less than half of my GMAT exam. Logically, there was no reason to be stressing: I always get stuff done, and if I didn’t, I’d pay ultimately inconsequential late fees. However, when sitting down for the exam seat, I was feeling like I should run out, forfeit my fee, and call my former car insurance company. Talk about a last-ditch excuse!

Anyways, I bring this up to show that at least for me, the stress of the exam causes a shift in my thinking that makes me want to put off the exam. You’re probably never going to feel ready, so just take your exam. The other stuff can wait.

photo of man jumping from boat to the sea
Photo by Oliver Sju00f6stru00f6m on

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